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    How to Inspire Thankfulness in Kids

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Dinner's Done, Now What? -  Ideas for Post-Thanksgiving Family Fun

Dinner's Done, Now What? - Ideas for Post-Thanksgiving Family Fun

After all the hours of prep work that go into Thanksgiving dinner, it seems as if it's gobbled up in no time flat. Now what? Here are a bunch of ideas for the entire family to enjoy after the big fe . . .

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10 Places to Buy Holiday Pies

10 Places to Buy Holiday Pies

If you don’t have the time (or desire) to make your own pies this holiday season, pick them up at one of these local favorite pie shops. Crafted Baked Goods2820 Historic Decatur Rd (Liberty Publi . . .

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Fun Family Board Games

Fun Family Board Games

Family Board Games! Check out these fun games for kids of all ages. Elmo's World Hide & Seek$19.99; 6 months+Amazon.comYour best friend is hiding somewhere around the house – but Elmo won . . .

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San Diego Family's 2017 Holiday Toy Review

San Diego Family's 2017 Holiday Toy Review

The San Diego Family Holiday Toy Review-2017 is here! Stumped for ideas on the perfect present to tuck under the tree or surprise your kiddos with this holiday season? Look no further than San Die . . .

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How to Have a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

How to Have a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

A celebration the kids will never forget!Make the kids’ table the best one in the house by celebrating like the Peanuts Gang in the popular movie, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. With Charlie Brown . . .

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Thanksgiving Roundup!

Thanksgiving Roundup!

Celebrate Thanksgiving with family-friendly events and activities, festive crafts, fall recipes and more in our Thanksgiving Round-up! You'll even find Winter Break Camps in San Diego! Quick links: . . .

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My husband and I adopted our daughter a little over a year ago. She came to us at age 9. She was abused, neglected, homeless and abandoned during her first four years with her biological family. Then she bounced around foster care for the next five years. She had a dozen sets of “Mom and Dad” before us. We reassure her all the time that we are her Last Mom and Last Dad.

We were chosen to be her parents in November, but didn’t get to bring her home until May. It was an adoptive placement through the foster care system, but we were in different states. We weren’t allowed any contact with her during those six months. She was actually in a group home during that time. She was moved there just a couple weeks after we were matched because her foster family was no longer willing to work with her aggression and tantrums. She was clearly a child in pain. We knew it and agreed to be her parents anyway. We felt strongly that her behavior was situational and that she needed the right environment and help to sort it out. We thought we could give it to her.

Being approved to be the parents of a child that is so obviously hurting and in need of your support, but having to endure six months of paperwork is torture. Our home and hearts were ready for her, but she was placed in a group home and didn’t even know we existed.

Once ICPC (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children) cleared, we were finally allowed to send her a photo book and she was told that she was going to be adopted. We flew to Texas two weeks later. We met her on a Monday and visited with her for a couple hours after school each day that week. On Friday she was ours forever. Within a few short weeks, she had learned she was going to be adopted and moved to another state with people she had met just days before.

No amount of research, adoption classes or book reading can prepare you for life with a traumatized child. They call older child adoption “special needs” adoption for a reason. Her special needs are real and they are vast. Fear, anxiety, anger, grief, shame and confusion are swirling around inside her all the time. It is not uncommon for her behavior to reflect all the pain she has inside. We get it. We understand. That doesn’t mean it isn’t hard or that we don’t get overwhelmed, exhausted or lose our cool sometimes.

One of the hardest parts is the isolation. It is very difficult for people to understand all that we’re going through. A loving home is not enough. Children who have been through trauma don’t just need “time to settle in.” Traditional discipline structure or parenting styles are usually ineffective with traumatized children. People become uncomfortable with the truth about how things are really going at home, so many parents stop sharing. Traumatized children often act very differently when they are around others than they do at home. Parents of recently adopted children often may start to get the feeling that people think they are the source of the problem.

Parents of kids with trauma and attachment issues need to be seen as the authority figures all the time. An attaching child needs to learn to depend on their parents to meet their needs, comfort them, keep them safe and give them affection. We have had to cut people out of our lives who refused to accept and respect our roles as parents of a hurt child.

It can even be difficult to find professionals who “get it.” Teachers, pediatricians and mental health providers might not take the parents concerns seriously because the child doesn’t show them the pain. They save that just for their parents. Our daughter is on the honor roll at school and has won awards for her positive behavior choices. The school wants to drop the IEP for emotional disability that we carried over from her last school in Texas. The month before they brought this up, we had to call 911 because she was having such an epic meltdown due to big feelings brought on by Mother’s Day that we weren’t sure of our ability to keep her safe. All three of us wound up with bruises, scrapes and scratches. All inflicted by her. She caved in the roof of my car. She may not show it at school right now, but her emotional needs are high.

We have had no luck in finding a therapist in our area that understands trauma and attachment. We tried three different mental health clinics. Bad therapy is worse than no therapy. Therapists in the past have not been helpful. In fact, we have to do a lot of work to keep some of them from being harmful.

We work hard on our own at helping our daughter process her past and her feelings. Therapeutic parenting has been very effective and she has made great progress. Unfortunately, getting medication for her anxiety prescribed without weekly therapy sessions is tricky. Her pediatrician won’t prescribe anxiety medication and other resources are extremely scarce. This is a common scenario for families who do not live in or near large cities.

The challenges are often glossed over when agencies are recruiting parents for children in foster care. I think it is important that people understand this journey is difficult, will change your life in every way and that you will likely have to face it on your own. Older child adoption is doable. It’s worth it. Progress, hope and healing are attainable. Our daughter shows us this every day. We have not regretted becoming her parents for a moment.


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Rachael Moshman has a Bachelor’s in psychology and a Master’s in education with focuses in early childhood, infant/toddler development and special needs. She has been a resource, trainer and mentor for area childcare workers and preschool teachers, as well as for families of young children for many years. Her greatest accomplishment is becoming the last mom to an amazing little girl through foster care adoption.



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Publications

  • San Diego Family Magazine

    San Diego Family Magazine

    Have you ever read something great in a magazine and then been frustrated because you can't remember where you put it? Well, so have we! That's why we think it's a fabulous idea to have the entire publication available to read online! Simply click the link below and use the arrows to turn the pages. You can search by area, event, location, or advertiser.

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  • Out & About

    Out & About

    All dressed up and no where to go? With Out & About, you'll never have to utter (or hear) the words "I'm bored" again!  Use this resource to find oodles of fun things to do in specific areas of San Diego County.

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  • Flourishing Families

    Flourishing Families

    Resources for Families with Special Needs

    Flourishing Families is the Parent Resource Guide for Children with Special Needs that contains over 950 resources in San Diego County. Read informative articles that offer help and encouragement to families with special needs. Sign up to receive our bi-monthly eNewsletter, keeping you connected to current and relevant information in the community. Ready to get out of the house? When you join our online community, you'll also discover fun family-friendly activities and events.

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